Ambition and courage are synonymous, and admirable qualities.
The ambitious, ‘Those who have the courage to work hard and sacrifice other areas of their lives in the pursuit of a goal’, are admired. But is hard work, making a lot of money, and sacrificing other areas of your life really the sum of ambition? Or is ambition something more, and of far greater importance?
“Ambition, I have come to believe, is the most primal and sacred fundament of our being. To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls. Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and on the reason for our existence.” ~ Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro
Ambition isn’t merely working long hours, conquering tribulation, and seeing a journey to its end, although that’s a reality that many ambitious people face. Ambition is “the reason for our existence“, as Pressfield puts it. It’s our soul telling us where meaning in life is found. It’s a large part of what gives our life purpose.
Where most fail to heed their soul’s ambitious call is in a lack of courage, and eventually a lack of persistence.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” ~ Calvin Coolidge
Your Ambitious Barter for Success
Success can mean many things. For us, a large part of success is accomplishing our audacious goals and dreams. Success can be happiness, a good family life, and a life full of purpose and meaning. But few could argue that true success is found in a life lived, not dreamed. One dominated by action, not the desire to act. A life filled with fears faced, limits pushed, and relationships cultivated. A successful life is one filled with experience and action, not wishes.
For the ambitious, success – or at least a large part of it – exists in following our dreams and seeing them to fruition. But to see our dreams realized we have to give something in return.
I used to think that to be successful, and as audaciously successful as I want to be, I had to forego relationships, that I had to put my work first and live a completely unbalanced life. This past weekend, however, I was shown otherwise as I ventured from Vancouver to New Jersey to see Bruce Springsteen in his home state.
As the concert began, the 63 year-old legend stood in front of me, and the 55,000 others who hung on his every note. A man truly in pursuit of “the most primal and sacred fundament” of his being. I’ve never seen a person so in love with what they do. He’s one of the hardest working people in the business. Yet his life is without scandal. He has a wife and children, and a mother he loves. He has balance. While he gives his craft the most hours and effort, his family gives him an escape and meaning that the object of his ambition doesn’t, and can’t.
For some of us, however, our ambitions may lead us to a solitary existence, and a solo pursuit of greatness. A lifetime spent perfecting our craft.
Success demands different things from each experience. But it does require one thing from all of us: effort, both in quality and quantity.
To perfect our craft we have to give to it the time it deserves and requires to blossom. We have to wake up earlier and work harder than others. We have to be willing to sacrifice partying and drinking, even sleep, all for our craft.
Where most fail isn’t in setting goals that are too high and missing, but in setting goals that are too low and succeeding. In a perfect world, devoid of limitation, what would you want to do, who would you want to be, and what would you like to accomplish? To take it a bit deeper is there one thing – whether it’s a job, a way of life, or a career you’d be willing to cut your life short 10 years to achieve?
Write it down. Then answer this:
In the next 10 years, what are you willing to give up to accomplish it? How many hours a day, how many days a week, how many vacations missed and parties are you willing to give?
The bigger the goal, the greater the sacrifice.
If you want to become a published author, you need to study. You need to read anything and everything. If you want to be a billionaire, waiting around for a great idea won’t get you there. Spend the next 5 years working, saving, and learning about other billionaire’s and their road to success. What did they do to get their billions?
You may need to sacrifice other areas of your life as well. You may need:
- Strict budgeting of finances.
- A 7-day a week work schedule of 12+ hours a day.
- To identify earlier on than most if a relationship is right. If it’s wrong, it can be toxic to your success.
- To learn how to say no, and say it a lot.
- To figure out a strict routine – not leaving your energy levels or ability to focus to chance.
- To recharge your batteries on weekends by not getting drunk then having to struggle to get back into a routine.
- To go above and beyond what you’ve done before. Pushing boundaries. Actively getting out of your comfort zone.
- Facing your fears at every opportunity.
The Courage To Follow Your Ambition
If the road to success is wrought with peaks and valleys, – usually more valleys than peaks – failure, pain, uncertainty, and brutish hard work, are the ambitious cursed? This burning desire that fuels an early wake up and the 16-hour workday, does it stand in the way of happiness?
There are those who want nothing more than a simple life, and I’m not looking down or degrading their goals or viewpoint. If anything, I envy them. To be satisfied with something they’re virtually born with leads to a life that will surely by successful. However, I don’t think the ambitious are cursed, rather blessed. It’s when we realize that within the journey lies the lessons, the personal development, the suffering, the fun, and the growth, that we will see this struggle, hustle, and battle as a blessing.
To have that burning desire, even if we don’t know where to focus it, is a gift. It’s beautiful. It’s your ability to hear what your soul truly wants. Have the courage to be who you are and pursue it with passion. Be different. Be bold. Embrace your ambition.
A Picture Quote To Live By: